May 2nd, 2012
04:18 PM ET

North Carolina pastor retracts sermon remarks about punching gay kids

By Stephen Walsh, CNN

(CNN) - A Fayetteville, North Carolina, pastor has retracted controversial language used during a weekend sermon in which he instructed parents to hit children who exhibited behavior associated with homosexuality.

“I apologize to anyone I have unintentionally offended,” Sean Harris, pastor of Berean Baptist Church wrote in a statement on his church’s website. “I did not say anything to intentionally offend anyone in the LGBT community.

“My intent was to communicate the truth of the Word of God concerning marriage,” the statement continued. “My words were not scripted. It is unfortunate I was not more careful and deliberate.”

Harris’s remarks at his church came a week before the state’s voters consider an amendment to North Carolina’s constitution limiting legal unions to marriage between a man and a woman.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

"The second you see your son dropping that limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist," Harris said in the Sunday sermon. "Man up. Give him a good punch."

"You’re not going to act like that," the pastor advised parents to tell their children. "You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.”

In an interview with the Fayetteville Observer, Harris said his comments were meant as a joke. In a video of the sermon posted online, laughter can be heard from some members of the congregation, as well as cries, of “Amen!” as the pastor spoke about responding to seemingly gay kids.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

Berean Baptist explains its stance on discipline of children on its website:

“Remembering the love and forgiveness that God has shown them, parents in turn should train their children with the purpose of reflecting the Heavenly Father to their children. Parents should consider their responsibility to be the instrument of discipline in their child’s life (Prov. 19:18). At times this may include appropriate and reasonable physical means (Prov. 10:13) employed upon the fleshy portion of the child’s buttocks (Prov. 22:15; 23:13); that this method is to be viewed as correction rather than punishment (Prov. 23:13); and that this correction will result in the child’s physical and spiritual betterment.”

Harris told the Observer that from within his church, "the response was, 'Pastor, we know you didn't mean that.'"

What do you think? Watch the above video to hear Harris’s remark and leave your comments below.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Homosexuality

soundoff (2,325 Responses)
  1. Max

    People would be really angry if it were reversed and someone said... you see your child starting to talk about sin and how it's okay to hate people, that their angry god wants to send people to hell... you just given a good smack and make'em do some more math.. that'lll clear up their brains...

    I wish religion was about loving kindness, not this endless hatred that makes it okay to hit people like me.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • YBP

      Excellent post, Max. You can add to math...some rudimentary science, archeology, history. That would clear up this religion thing once and for all. A basic High School education could actually be the remedy to this numb skull disease.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  2. M.E.

    Ha ha, real funny joke there pastor. Perhaps we should break YOUR wrists as "correction." Or maybe you just missed the memo god sent out to love everyone.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  3. keith

    it's official . . . you can beat the gay out of people . . .

    May 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • YBP

      Yes. Beat them with that big wooden cross that you just pulled out of your...

      May 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  4. ron

    Too late. The genie is already out of the bottle. What a sorry excuse for a human. So much for religion.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • hank

      wow.....pretty incredible that all hope for religion hinged on a hick pastor from backwoods north carolina. who knew?

      May 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • YBP

      Hank, do you really think that this is the only so-called pastor at the root of this problem? There's a huge bullying problem in the US and around the world that couldn't possibly exist without the backwards thinking of the Big Three. America used to be a safe place for LGBT people. Native Americans revered their two-spirited (meaning gay) people. They found them to be exceedingly wise and magical.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • hank

      got to love the naivete of atheists. if only there was no religion we'd be living in a utopia! how cute.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  5. Richard

    The God of the old testament was not a Christian. These faux Christians don't really understand Jesus, they have uneducated people who believe every word these snake oil salesmen tell them. They pervert the true meaning of the new testament. Unfortunately, these people already drank the kool-aid.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      I thought the bible was open for interpretation?

      May 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • YBP

      The NT views the OT through an entirely pagan lense. It's a cultural travesty and a very bad joke. Christians have no grasp of Judaism whatsoever and therefore misinterpret what Jesus supposedly thought and said. Of course there is no concrete historical evidence for Jesus, but that's another troublesome point entirely. My guess is that that there were plenty of crucified zealots named Yeshua (translated to Joshua, misltranslated to Jesus, meaning "God's Salvation") throughout the early first century CE. One of them, or perhaps several of them could have been the basis for today's Jesus. Marcus J. Borg's latest book Speaking Christian helps clear a few things up about Jesus' Jewish language. But it also unintentionally deconstructs Christianity. Good book, pardon the pun.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  6. Voice of Reason

    Simply put, this man is promoting child abuse and prejudice and it was premeditated.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • YBP

      Nothing new here...unfortunately. At least CNN is calling him out on it. Let's keep that up.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  7. Jespo

    Another useless and unfelt apology from the religious right....this preacher is a punk hiding behind his faith just like the rest of them.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  8. WhatNow

    Another reason not to go to church.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  9. God's Oldest Dreamer

    I call my tomact numb nuts! Maybe I should call this guy the same! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    May 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      thats tomcat and not tomact,,,,LoL

      May 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  10. apocalyptic demon

    think you should punch a zealot instead.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Rowdymom

      Those that talk the talk and speak the loudest are just hiding behind their true feelings. I think the guy is gay! And a religious wacko!

      May 2, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  11. Mike Littlefield

    People who think that Jesus was born in the United States and votes Republican would probably have pretty screwy ideas about other things as well.

    I should know, I used to be a fundamental evangelical myself; but too much hate in the name of Christ for my tastes.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  12. Johnny Blammo

    After listening to him and the supporting "amens" the audience is saying, I can only wonder why there is never a tornado around when you need one.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • ron


      May 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      I heard a preacher on the radio tell the people in a town that was devastated by a tornado that it was because they passed the liquor law in the county.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      That radio pastor was with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Corn Likker.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  13. LOL Religion

    Love the Christian, hate their idiotic bigoted religion.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      Well played!

      May 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Max

      Oh that's good!

      May 2, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  14. Jeffrey Swanson

    This is man is hatefull and I bet he is Gay, he looks gay and should be stripped of his bible.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • YBP

      It's a very safe bet that he is gay.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Thomas Paine

      This idiot pastor is, indeed, probably gay. F'ck him.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  15. the_dude

    What is wrong with hitting gay-acting kids? Maybe if you hit them enough they will come to their senses and be normal instead of some freak. I am not a christian. If one of my kids acted gay I would toss them off a cliff.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Jespo

      I hope you're sterile.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Offended

      It would be interesting to know what secret you hold that would cause others to say the same about you? Think about it.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • YBP

      It's a very safe bet that you are gay, dude.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Maybe if you hit them enough they will come to their senses and be normal "

      The experts around the world hundreds of thousands of them have stated that being gay is a normal part of human sexuality. You need to be hit for not knowing the real truth on this subject since your prejudice isn't founded on real facts!

      May 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  16. Mazzata

    God must love offensive, mental degenerates; so many of them have been made.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • YBP

      Yes, and He wrote a whole Book about it as well.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  17. God's Oldest Dreamer

    Ask any preacher what they think about, Ephesians 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace

    May 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Mazzata

      Let's try that in English.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Mazzata,,,,,,,,,,,, ,

      It is English just KJVB English translative! The way I see this one verse is the ten commandments are all thrown out the window all for the sake of peace!

      May 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  18. Insight

    If you want to sww what a liar this pinnacle of morality is, watch the video, then see if you agree with his rebuttal: "In an interview with the Fayetteville Observer, Harris said his comments were meant as a joke."

    May 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  19. lavender girl

    I think pastor sean has some sweetness in himself that he cant deal with. And his rant does nothing to dispell the stereotype of the redneck, bigoted southerner.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Mazzata

      Love that toothless, banjo-strummin' set.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  20. Steve SD

    Nothing wrong with a little corporal punishment of minors for no good reason. I watch my son closely – if he even LOOKS as though he's trying to match his shirt to his pants I beat him senseless. I love religion! It makes it so much easier to not think.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.